State

Modesto Council will get update on gangs

Acting Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden will address the City Council on Monday evening to outline his department's layered strategy to combat gang activity and the violence it produces.

Harden said he will provide the council an overview of gang activity in the city and his department's use of education, intervention and suppression to derail the cycle of gang violence.

He said the council has supported his department's efforts in tackling the gang issue and hopes it will continue.

"This is designed to let them know where we're at now," Harden said.

The police chief will talk about the department's reorganization of its gang inves- tigators. The department formed the Street Gang Unit, made up of officers who provide law enforcement and a visible presence in gang- infested areas.

Also, Harden reassigned police investigators working with the Central Valley Gang Impact Task Force, a federally funded countywide group that has members from local law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

The investigators were placed in the department's Gang Investigations Unit, which is composed of officers who focus on solving gang-related crimes.

Harden plans to explain to the council how the department will use money from a state grant to implement an anti-gang strategy that combines deterrence with opportunities to receive services and employment.

Combined with a grant given to the Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet for employment training services, the department's strategy will target gang members most likely to be violent, Harden said.

Officers and other officials will meet with gang members and assure them they will be arrested and incarcerated if the violence continues. Gang members will be encouraged to take advantage of faith-based and other services, including job training and tattoo removal, and the means to get a General Equivalency Diploma.

"We're going to bring them in a room and tell them the gang violence must stop, and it must stop now," Harden said.

The department's strategy, called Project Safe, will mirror the CeaseFire Program first introduced on the East Coast 15 years ago. Harden said it resulted in significant reductions in gang murders in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Boston and Chicago.

The Modesto City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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